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COA rules on estate representative's banking activity

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has overturned a Lake County judge in an estate case involving a personal representative who conducted banking transactions for an elderly man before his death.

In American Savings, FSB v. Steve H. Tokarski, Successor Personal Rep. of the Estate of John Wroblewski, on Behalf of the Estate, No. 45A04-1105-CC-237, the appellate court reversed and remanded a decision by Lake Superior Judge Gerarld Svetanoff regarding the estate of John Wroblewski that dates back to 2003.

While in his late 80s, Wroblewski named Zorica Milovanovic as his power of attorney and gave her the authority to do tasks such as personal banking transactions. He executed a will naming her the personal representative of his estate, and in June 2003 she used that power of attorney to purchase cashier’s checks which she deposited into a new savings account at American Savings Bank in her name only. After Wroblewski died in 2004, his heirs contested the will and Milovanovic serving as personal representative.

Fifth Third Bank eventually became the successor personal representative, and in 2005 the Lake Superior Court declared Wroblewski’s will invalid because of Milovanovic’s undue influence. Fifth Third requested the savings account records from American Savings Bank, When Steve Tokarski became personal representative in 2007, he filed the lawsuit against American Savings Bank on grounds that the financial institution knew the money was, in fact, for John Wroblewski but allowed Milovanovic to deposit it. That was a breach of contract, the representative claimed.

The trial court found in favor of Tokarski on two counts and for American Savings Bank on a third, relying on a 2010 appellate case known as In re Estate of Rickert to determine American Savings Bank was liable. But the Court of Appeals concluded Rickert is inapplicable to this case because a contract did not arise between American Savings and Wroblewski when Milovanovic opened her savings account. Tokarski provided the trial court with no other basis for a contract between American Savings and Wroblewski and pointed to no designated evidence showing the existence of such a contract, the court found.

As a result, the appellate judges found the trial court erred by granting summary judgment for Tokarski and denying summary judgment for American Savings on the count involving the receipt of cashier’s checks to Milovanovic’s savings account.

The appellate court also found in favor of Tokarski on the issue of the bank’s applying a certificate of deposit to pay off Milovanovic’s mortgage. By deciding the trial court had erred on the first two counts, the appellate judges decided they didn’t need to address the issue of damages and set-off.

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  1. Welcome to Hendricks County where local and state statutes (especially Indiana Class C misdemeanors) are given a higher consideration than Federal statues and active duty military call-ups.

  2. If real money was spent on this study, what a shame. And if some air-head professor tries to use this to advance a career, pity the poor student. I am approaching a time that i (and others around me) should be vigilant. I don't think I'm anywhere near there yet, but seeing the subject I was looking forward to something I might use to look for some benchmarks. When finally finding my way to the hidden questionnaire all I could say to myself was...what a joke. Those are open and obvious signs of any impaired lawyer (or non-lawyer, for that matter), And if one needs a checklist to discern those tell-tale signs of impairment at any age, one shouldn't be practicing law. Another reason I don't regret dropping my ABA membership some number of years ago.

  3. The case should have been spiked. Give the kid a break. He can serve and maybe die for Uncle Sam and can't have a drink? Wow. And they won't even let him defend himself. What a gross lack of prosecutorial oversight and judgment. WOW

  4. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  5. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

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